Why Buffy, why now?
January 27, 2016 2:52 PM   Subscribe

The Chosen One still gets chosen. Almost thirteen years ago, I put my first post up on Metafilter. It was a goodbye to my favorite show. It wasn't heavily commented on. In the intervening time, we've had Buffy conventions, Buffy sing-alongs and a huge amount of scholarly work!

(There's also been a fairly large amount of posts here.)

Just think about everything that has happened in the last thirteen years and all the punditry about how different the world is for young people now. So the Mary Sue asks the question Why are so many young people discovering Buffy now?
posted by lumpenprole (77 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just went to a Buffy birthday party!
posted by miyabo at 3:15 PM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm re-watching for the n'th time with my newish girlfriend, and she's loving it!
Actually, a random "hey did you ever watch buffy?" responded to with "no, but I keep hearing about it and want to!" probably helped lead to her moving on the relationship chart to "girlfriend".
posted by flaterik at 3:17 PM on January 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


So weird. Buffy was such an integral part of growing up for me, and also how I really got into the internet and forums and whatnot - it's weird to think people are coming into it now, all young and fresh. I guess this is part of getting old.
posted by liquorice at 3:20 PM on January 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


From the first link:

or to hold out hope of procuring a copy of the 5/13 episode....any DC area MeFites got it on tape?

I feel like reading that thread is going to be as much of a time capsule as watching the show can be.

Phones on walls! People dancing to live music and not at a club! The bands they are dancing to! The clothes! It's definitely part of the charm.
posted by flaterik at 3:20 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


My wife and I are watching it, both for the first time. We're on season 3, and we're pretty obsessed.
posted by jjwiseman at 3:23 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


jjwiseman, I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone else who starts watching Buffy: watch Angel as well. If you're so inclined, alternate episodes.
posted by cardioid at 3:38 PM on January 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


I watched it for the first time just two years ago after this thread, or at least the first five seasons. I still haven't gotten around to watching the last two seasons. Are they worth the bother? I don't usually watch any show through the end since they usually stop being good a few seasons before then.
posted by octothorpe at 3:44 PM on January 27, 2016


I feel like reading that thread is going to be as much of a time capsule as watching the show can be.

btw, DanO, if you have a broadband connection, you can try Kazaa - the full episodes show up there usually within 24 hours of airing. (Tangent - is it piracy to put broadcast shows on PTP?)


Were we ever so young?
posted by Errant at 3:45 PM on January 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


jjwiseman, I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone else who starts watching Buffy: watch Angel as well

because disappointment is good for you.
posted by escabeche at 3:47 PM on January 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


We watched Buffy a few years ago, and just started Angel last week. It's pretty painful to watch so far, 6 episodes in.
posted by Catblack at 4:19 PM on January 27, 2016


It doesn't get really good until the last episode of the first season, "Prophecy Girl". From there on it should be a lot less painful. Except for the one where Xander joins the swim team. That one is exceptionally painful.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:22 PM on January 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even with the misstep at the end of the season, Angel Season 2 is best season of either show.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:30 PM on January 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


How timely! I just started watching Buffy for the first time ever a few weeks ago. I'm right at the beginning of Season 2, and super enjoying it. Also enjoying reading the FanFare threads as I go.

I don't know why I didn't watch it when it was on. I was the right age to have enjoyed it. I had seen the movie, and I remember hearing that there was going to be a series and being kind of annoyed that they were changing the main actress. But I never even watched one episode!
posted by aka burlap at 4:48 PM on January 27, 2016


Angel takes a while to figure out what it wants to be, but once it does it turns into a pretty great show.
posted by flaterik at 4:50 PM on January 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


jjwiseman, I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone else who starts watching Buffy: watch Angel as well. If you're so inclined, alternate episodes.

Wait, why alternate episodes?
posted by aka burlap at 4:51 PM on January 27, 2016


My love for Buffy is boundless. Sure there were episodes that were duds. But all in all, Best.Show.Ever. And the finale was brilliant. It did something you never see in "Chosen One" stories, super hero stories, messiah stories, I-got-magic-beans stories -- Buffy does what no other hero has ever done (not that I know of anyway) -- she shares her power. It gave me chills. C'mon! Relive it with me now!!

BUFFY
What if you could have that power?
Now. All of you. In every
generation one Slayer is born because
a bunch of guys that died thousands
of years ago made up that rule. They
were powerful men.
(points to Willow)
This woman is more powerful than all
of them combined. So I say we change
the rules. I say my power should be
our power. Tomorrow Willow will use
the essence of this scythe, that
contains the energy and history of so
many Slayers, to change our destiny.
From now on, every girl in the world
who might be a Slayer, will be a
Slayer. Every girl who could have
the power, will have the power. Who
can stand up, will stand up. Every
one of you, and girls we've never
known, and generations to come...
they will have strength they never
dreamed of, and more than that, they
will have each other. Slayers.
Every one of us. Make your choice.
Are you ready to be strong?
posted by pjsky at 4:55 PM on January 27, 2016 [41 favorites]


Alternate episodes as in "One BTVS, one Angel (after BTVS season three)" -- the way they were aired.
posted by Etrigan at 4:56 PM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


Angel is worth it just for the final season, or even the final scene.
posted by mokin at 4:59 PM on January 27, 2016 [23 favorites]


I just watched them both, for the first time. I have a LOT of feels about it, but I will say I now understand how it changed television. Mr. Whedon has grown with us all, and I'm pretty impressed with the both of them, years later, warts and all. That said, with every misstep, there is some equally staggering heavy lifting.
posted by the_royal_we at 5:00 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait, why alternate episodes?

That's how they aired, and they occasionally did crossovers where a story started on Buffy would conclude on that week's Angel, or a story started on Angel would conclude on next week's Buffy.
posted by brianrobot at 5:06 PM on January 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ahhhh got it!
posted by aka burlap at 5:07 PM on January 27, 2016


Oh, and Team Anya. 4ever.
posted by the_royal_we at 5:07 PM on January 27, 2016 [28 favorites]


The final season of Buffy corresponded with the onset of my double whammy of Congestive Heart Failure and Clinical Depression. I NEED to rewatch it to catch everything I obviously missed, but I'm scared of reliving anything from the 2002-2003 television season... I know they tried to revive Family Affair with Tim Curry as Mr. French, or was that just part of a psychotic break?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:15 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The last two seasons of Buffy were pretty spotty; not sure I could recommend them. Some high points, but a lot of torturing the characters for no good reason, too. Seasons 2 and 3 were the best for both Angel and Buffy, I think, and both shows really suffered when they lost Charisma Carpenter. She had really good comic timing and acting that was really underserved in Buffy, particularly.
posted by rikschell at 5:50 PM on January 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


My girlfriends on her first watch, and dinner tonight was over the musical episode. I've played songs from this and I could never get sick of it. I love this show and its warts only seem to become more charming each time I rewatch it.
posted by lownote at 6:25 PM on January 27, 2016


And you'll never trust rabbits after Buffy. Those twitchy little noses...
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:48 PM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


I totally understand the strong female character thing and the much needed impact and influence this had. But this is focused on so much it seems to be almost forgotten that as well as having great characters the scripts were some of the tightest, most interesting and often funny words ever written for television. I think that's a big reason why they are still popular.

[BTW, any time I need a smile, I just think of the episode where Giles can't be found because he has snuck off to a folk club to sing Behind Blue Eyes.]
posted by drnick at 6:58 PM on January 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


I love season 6. It's not perfect, but it's got a lot of interesting things going on and some great episodes. Season 7 gets a lot of grief, but it starts strong, bogs down pretty badly in the middle and finishes extraordinarily well. I love the last episode more than just about anything. It's the ending Buffy (the show and the character) deserved.
posted by Mavri at 7:03 PM on January 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Why now? Because Netflix. Even if you WANTED to see it before, who had all the discs?
posted by gregglind at 7:06 PM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


gregglind: waves

*looks around house, notices lack of remaining devices with optical drives*

*feels even older*

Thanks a lot…
posted by adamsc at 7:25 PM on January 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm still upset that I don't have Season 7 in the traditional boxset that I got Seasons 1 - 6 in. They changed to the amaray cases shortly after Season 7 was released on DVD. The set just doesn't look right!
posted by liquorice at 7:33 PM on January 27, 2016


I have all the disks, too. Both shows.

I dismissed it at first, but finally started watching when FX showed reruns, got hooked, and eventually I caught up to first run episodes, and Angel was probably the last show I ever recorded on tape.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2016


The Multnomah county library system had all of Buffy on DVD back in 2005. They probably still have it. Watched it (and Angel) over the course of a year with my then-GF. The show ended just as our relationship was ending, so the weakness of season 7 is tied up with a failing relationship in my mind.

That said, it's fantastic. Season 6 has some really strong parts and some really weak ones. The addiction theme doesn't really work, but there is some tremendous acting (although I am sick of the musical episode already). Season 7, well, Nathan Fillion isn't really a good bad guy. He can't radiate menace properly.

The last season of Angel though, that was great. And the comic send-off (Angel: Lorne - Music of the Spheres) they gave to Lorne after Andy Halley died was really sweet. (Even if you don't read comics, read it.)
posted by Hactar at 8:43 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Of course everyone loves Buffy. People finding a good show is people finding a good show.

By the way, storywonk.com is doing Buffy and Angel podcasts (and they seem to be working on every geek show ever) if you're interested.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:50 PM on January 27, 2016


From the 4th season on, I watched Buffy when it aired on the BBC in "anamorphic 16:9 widescreen format". Never really understood all the decade-later US hate for that format - i guess I always just kind of assumed Buffy was low-budget, shot in a hurry and naturally full of gaffes and crew elbows flashing by... and that was part of its charm.
posted by meehawl at 9:32 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


> Angel takes a while to figure out what it wants to be, but once it does it turns into a pretty great show.

I respectfully disagree. I just did a big ol' rewatch for the first time in a long time. Buffy held up pretty damn great; strengths and weaknesses were still pretty much where I remembered them. Angel..um...I found that the weaknesses were weaker, and the strengths were...also weaker.
posted by desuetude at 10:19 PM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was not quite thirteen years old when I started watching Buffy and I don't know if I'm exaggerating when I say it saved my life. It definitely changed my life, in ways I can barely unpick from the overall trajectory of my adolescence and young adulthood.

I'm not even sure where to start talking about it, other than to point to the last 15+ years of things I've said on the internet, because I can trace nearly everything back to that day I caught a rerun of "Invisible Girl" the summer after seventh grade.
posted by nonasuch at 10:28 PM on January 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


I watched the first 5 seasons on VHS tapes. Still have them somewhere in the attic.
posted by Pendragon at 1:10 AM on January 28, 2016


I have a minorly deraily question: When the show was first on, I noticed a strange (to me) strain of fandom for the show, evinced by usenet fan postings and the content of some early blogs: middle-aged hyper-Catholic men. Now, I could come up with my own theories for this, but at the end of the day, I'd just be guessing (or projecting). Also, please note, while not a fan of the show myself, I'm not questioning anybody's enthusiasm - I, myself, have a totally indefensible fondness for the James Bond oeuvre, books and cinema, so, like, I know fandom in general. It's just that this old-guy unselfconscious Catholic glomming onto a show that struck me as all about sexualized grrl-power teens and the occult .. well, I just don't understand it.

(If you deign to explain, please be gentle and limit the "Duh!"s. Thanks.)
posted by Chitownfats at 2:46 AM on January 28, 2016


>Oh, and Team Anya. 4ever.

Our daughter's middle name, because Buffy.
posted by Catblack at 3:44 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's just that this old-guy unselfconscious Catholic glomming onto a show that struck me as all about sexualized grrl-power teens and the occult ..

That doesn't sound like any Buffy fans that I've been in contact with, but I guess you could make an argument that at a certain level Buffy is a deconstructive spin on the Virgin Mary mythology -- a teenage girl told by a mysterious visitor that she will carry the responsibility of saving the world from evil. Buffy's choices and agency are very different from Mary's, so perhaps that's the key to their fascination.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:59 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't watch Buffy when it first started. I thought the whole premise was stupid and why give a character a name like Buffy. A few years into the series, I stumbled on it and watched a bit. This was probably around year 4 or 5 of the series.

A few years ago, i watched the entire series and became OBSESSED. It was literally the only thing I watched. I pored over sites that detailed the episodes, the fan fiction sites. It truly was a fantastic show. Badass Willow, I mean who doesn't want to be a witch now? Giles, Anya, Xander - I love them all. Buffy was just an awesome and inspiring heroine.

And I can't believe I ignored it because it was about a vampire-slaying cheerleader named Buffy. The whole idea seemed goofy and ridiculous. And it was excellent.
posted by shoesietart at 6:28 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


>Oh, and Team Anya. 4ever.

Our daughter's middle name, because Buffy.



I kind of want to get another cat and name it D'Hoffryn.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:50 AM on January 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Even stranger that people aren't listening to Ani Difranco if they are watching Buffy.
posted by asok at 7:26 AM on January 28, 2016


I was the pretty much the same age as the characters on Buffy (class of 97 instead of 99), and it was my first fandom. I LOVED that show. I wrote fanfiction for it (dispersed through Yahoo! Groups, remember that?), had a Livejournal, the whole works.

I made a Buffy website around 1999/2000 - back then everyone made their own websites to host their fanfiction 'archives.' I started with a free Geocities page and slowly taught myself how to code.

So here I am, 15 or so years later, and that illustration degree? Useless. But the coding and design I taught myself so that I could have the ~*coolest*~ Buffy fanfiction site back in the day? Responsible for opening the doors to my career as a digital designer and production artist.

So yeah. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is responsible for my career. Cheers.
posted by Windigo at 7:42 AM on January 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


(Also, I have said it in other threads about BtVS, but Oz was my ideal of the teen/college boyfriend and while my opinion has changed on other characters over the years - for example I now dislike Willow and love Buffy, when before I felt the opposite about each of them - Oz is still my fave. I am still glad he made it out alive. I have a whole headcannon about what happened to him after Sunnydale, but seeing how've I not written fanfiction in about 15 years, that will have to stay in my head.)
posted by Windigo at 7:46 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


My introduction to Buffy was at CHI 99, an ACM convention. Some student presenters used Buffy websites as part of their research and presentations. Intrigued, I started watching the show that summer, when they put season 1 in reruns to hook people. And then I continued watching in the fall.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:57 AM on January 28, 2016


We are also in the middle of a rewatch. My wife and I were in our early 20s when the show first aired, and watched the first 4-5 seasons before schedules took over and we lost track (pre-DVR, of course). Now, we have a 12-year-old son who has grown up on everything that couldn't have existed without Buffy (Hunger Games, Divergent, Mortal Instruments, etc.). We decided to start rewatching the original this past year, and he is completely obsessed. We are at the beginning of Season 3 and just met Faith.

Some duds in the first two seasons, but otherwise it holds up really well.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:15 AM on January 28, 2016


Man, I need to be careful in this thread because, believe it or not, I'm trying to avoid spoilers. I've been avoiding the fanfare posts as much as I'm tempted, for the same reason. I found one podcast that claimed to be spoiler-free, but it wasn't good enough to keep me listening.

The going is hard for a first-time Buffy watcher and obsessive.

(I actually did watch the first episode when it aired, but dumb me back then stopped because I thought it was gross how much the teen girls were being sexualized.)
posted by jjwiseman at 8:57 AM on January 28, 2016


I think I discussed this on the Television Without Pity thread, but all of my bridesmaids I met through Buffy. In fact, Buffy is the primary reason I discovered that having female friends was an epically good thing. I still go on vacation with my Buffy girls every year and we still get drunk and talk about the show as if it was still going on.

My everyday vocabulary is still riddled with Buffy-isms and I've spread those little verbal tics like "not so much" and "make with the..." through out every institution I've been involved in. You never really realize how much impact it had until you hear the dean of a state university library say "Love makes you do the wacky" in regards to his undying commitment to the Dewey Decimal System. Even better is with the VP of highly regarded financial institution borrows your term about "hugs and puppies" to refer to getting along with other departments.

And those bits don't even reflect how much I learned about myself, the world, and the kind of person I wanted to be. Buffy helped me grow into a strong woman who could handle a lot of crap without breaking and she taught me it was okay to ask for help and that my friends would always have my back. Me without Buffy is a sad pale thing and I'm glad that alternate universe doesn't exist. Honestly, there's probably no shrimp in it either.

Honestly, I'm glad more and more people are finding it. It's a fabulous show.
posted by teleri025 at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


The Buffy forum on the WB's website and another private forum were my intro to Socializing With Other Nerds On The Internet. We made close friendships. Older fans in their 20s gave us younger kids a space to geek out about our celebrity crushes and moderated other forum areas for insightful analysis of the show. We were like a family, until the forums disbanded and we lost touch. I wonder how many of us then-13 and 14 year olds have popped up as adults on mefi, tumblr, etc. I could be talking with some of the same people and never realize it.
posted by landunderwave at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Buffy forum on Television Without Pity drew me back into posting online, after a few years spent on Usenet. It was an interesting community, and for a few years, very emotionally charged. It was a good place for connecting and amplifying feelings and attitudes to scary degrees. Then again, shows set in high schools can do that.

Online Buffy fandom in general benefited from the newness of internet/web usage, the lack of big social media options, and the rapid spread of broadband internet access after 1999. Cast and crew were open to the idea of connecting with fans online, even if encounters never went as expected.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:33 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm watching with my 13 year old son. My first time through was kinda janky, because my wife and I discovered it in season 5, I think. So we were watching the current season in real time, season 3 and 4 in syndication, and seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. I even got an import of season 2 from Australia so we wouldn't have to wait 6 more months to catch up.
posted by rikschell at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


landunderwave, I never posted on the Bronze much (I was mostly at another forum) but oh man, did I appreciate the grown-up nerds who, just by existing, gave thirteen-year-old me the confidence to believe that I'd grow up into a person who wasn't miserable, awkward thirteen-year-old me.

I'm 30 now, and I feel a weird obligation to provide the same support to today's baby nerds, but they don't seem to need it? I don't know when this happened, but all the tweens I meet anymore are super into Doctor Who or MCU or Trek or whatever and will tell you their headcanons with zero prompting or shame.

(were you there when the stunt coordinator had a giant public meltdown on the Bronze? ah, memories.)
posted by nonasuch at 1:03 PM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was mostly at another forum

::waves at you::
posted by suelac at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Angel Season 2 is best season of either show.

I agree, though Buffy 2/3 give it a run for it's money.

Both had really terrible episodes later seasons, though again, both really picked up in their final years.

Not to say that there isn't some really good stuff in Buffy S4 (The Body, Hush).

And Angel S5 has Smile Time (no links, no spoilers), probably the funniest episode in all of the Buffy/Angel run.
posted by bonehead at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2016


I still haven't gotten around to watching the last two seasons. Are they worth the bother?

I kept hearing awful things about the last few seasons (I ended up inadvertently TVless during that time so came back later) but I actually found quite a lot to love about the way it's round up. I think some of the most powerful images around what being a slayer means come in the last season, but the avoidable racism ramps up too so it's kind of even - very good for white women, but not so great on other fronts.

It has the standard Whedon flaws, but also the standard Whedon brilliance, and the way they wrap it up felt really powerful to me even as an adult coming back to something I grew up with as a teenager.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2016


I still haven't gotten around to watching the last two seasons.

There's a last-season episode about Andrew filming everyone that I think is one of the best of all Buffy episodes.
posted by straight at 1:45 PM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, it's just really good, right? Independent of politics and pop culture and girl power and whatever... Stories with flawed-but-relatable characters, well-constructed jokes, meaty moral dilemmas, well-earned dramatic moments and a health dose of suspense, of course that's going to stay popular. This is like asking "Why are new generations still discovering Huckleberry Finn?" or "How does Jane Austen stay popular year after year?" Because they're good.

People will still be watching Buffy in 100 years. I'm calling it now. And they'll think everyone talked like that at the turn of the millennium.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Spike and Buffy hurt the show, I thought. Spike was a fan favorite, so they kept having to find ways to include him, but I think the legacy of the show would be stronger without him, though it's possible his popularity helped the show continue longer than it otherwise would have. Show runner s have a tough job.
posted by rikschell at 3:53 PM on January 28, 2016


I don't see the problem with Spike. "Buffy sometimes makes bad choices (but she's still a hero)" is clearly a major theme of the show. Spike was one of those bad choices.

But, I mean, I totally saw what attracted her to Spike more than I ever saw what attracted her Riley. Spike is hilarious and smart and brutally honest and does whatever the hell he wants (that last part is kind of the whole problem with Spike, but it's also part of his charisma.) Riley spends the whole show with a stick up his butt, trying to be polite and careful and be what everyone else wants him to be and feeling terribly needy and insecure about himself.

Riley is the boyfriend that Buffy dated because he was human and normal and sweet and she thought he would be good for her. Riley was Buffy eating her vegetables. But what did it get her?

Spike is so fun to be around with his sarcasm and his lack of impulse control. Spike is the salted caramels you eat by the fistful when you just don't care about your stupid diet anymore. Totally makes perfect sense that depressed-Buffy does not have the energy to resist him.

But a diet of salted caramels is really not the best thing for you long-term, and Buffy realizes that (when his lack of impulse control becomes a serious not-okay Problem), and the whole thing is very believable to me.

Now I want salted caramels, damn it.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


My older cats: Spike and Giles. Draw your own conclusions. (Husband wouldn't let me name Nigel "Xander.")
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:52 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Riley is the boyfriend that Buffy dated because he was human and normal and sweet and she thought he would be good for her. Riley was Buffy eating her vegetables. But what did it get her?"

This whole thing sounds like "doughnuts vs. muffins" in Jennifer Crusie's Faking It. But...yeah, cornfed Iowa boy is gonna be nothing compared to hot tortured vampires.

Well, everyone tells us we should pick someone decent and normal and not what we're actually into, and that goes double for Buffy after Angel, so....yeah. It's a phase.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Way back in the mists of time, a cute boy drove me home from a thing, and we got to chatting. He mentioned that he had missed that week's episode of Buffy (Tabula Rasa, as it happens), I mentioned that I had recorded that episode and it was soooo coooool. When we got to my house, I invited him in to watch the episode. Of course, he accepted. After we finished that episode, we watched that week's Angel. Long story short - we've been together for almost 14 years now. Thanks, Buffy.
posted by misfish at 9:44 PM on January 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


> Riley is the boyfriend that Buffy dated because he was human and normal and sweet and she thought he would be good for her. Riley was Buffy eating her vegetables. But what did it get her? Spike is so fun to be around with his sarcasm and his lack of impulse control.

Buffy's, uh, romantic difficulties always seemed pretty clear to me as an illustration of how patriarchy damages men. Or, to the obvious narrative point in the series, human non-monster dudes just can't handle having a relationship with a female superhero. Riley was promising because he seemed like the best of both worlds, a nice guy who also had a sekrit fightin' identity, but even (unknowingly) juiced up by The Initiative, he couldn't really compete with Buffy in combat, and once he didn't have the chemicals, he went straight to self-loathing downward spiral.
posted by desuetude at 11:05 PM on January 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Psst, go to fanfare to have all these discussions! We've been going for half a year or so now, and are currently on Season 6!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:38 AM on January 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, and Team Anya. 4ever.

We named my lovely kitten after Anya because she had a predisposition towards sitting up on her hind legs like a bunny, and also because she has that same air of "not quite a normal human (cat)" that the character always had.

Anya-the-character's monologue in The Body (warning for S5 spoilers and major feels) remains the most memorable moment of of a very memorable series for me: she's like a child, in some ways, with the vocabulary and experiences of an adult, and that lets her put her feelings into words in a way that really punches you in the gut with how *real* it is. That whole episode is unnerving in how starkly it portrays the the situation (notice the complete lack of musical score), but Anya's reaction stuck with me more than any other part of it.

The worst part about Buffy was Giles with that damn rose staying in the opening for so long.
posted by ashirys at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't see the problem with Spike. "Buffy sometimes makes bad choices (but she's still a hero)" is clearly a major theme of the show. Spike was one of those bad choices.

Spike mostly happened during Season 6, the Buffy is dealing with post-revival depression season. While it had some hilarious moments (fast-food penis monsters), overall 6 was one of the less-well written seasons as well as the material generally being a major downer week after week. There's nothing wrong with Spike/Buffy as such, but it wasn't the show's strongest run by any means.
posted by bonehead at 8:54 AM on January 29, 2016


(thinking about it, that mostly applies to the beginning of S6. The end picks up considerably, and is one of my favourite climaxes, second only to HS graduation probably).
posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on January 29, 2016


The worst part about Buffy was Giles with that damn rose staying in the opening for so long.

Jenny Calendar died too soon.
posted by bonehead at 9:03 AM on January 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


When we got to my house, I invited him in to watch the episode. Of course, he accepted. After we finished that episode, we watched that week's Angel. Long story short - we've been together for almost 14 years now.

You know you're going to have to let him out of your house eventually, right?
posted by webmutant at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with Spike/Buffy as such, but it wasn't the show's strongest run by any means.

I found that it twigged to some of the difficulties of relationships but I don't think it went all the way (though I was glad that in the context of the show Buffy was still cookie dough and she rejected Nice Guy Spike (tm)) due to a mix of the sort of hormones that makes girls long for Jareth the Goblin King, and a healthy dose of patriarchy.

Spike is the guy who really likes you and who changes for you, but changing sucks and he's bad at it and changing for another person really doesn't ever work. I think in the show they ended up aiming for a 1:1::Buffy's Darkness:Spike's Darkness, but I think the inherent racism underpinning the whole damn show undercut that immensely (though Whedon moved mountains trying to make it just the Patriarchy, he still doesn't seem to grok race the way he somewhat does gender) and the use of "Africa" as "place of darkness and transformation" just offloaded a bunch of stuff that needed to be retained in the narrative for it to be complete.

I also think that, at a fundamental level, societally we don't know what an actual relationship of equals looks like narratively and that hit Buffy harder than most. I wish the comic book could have gotten more into that, but it looks like they went for "Buffy ends up with her attempted rapist who changed for her" which is a route with much more historical weight, but isn't a route to something new and equal.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:42 PM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


societally we don't know what an actual relationship of equals looks like narratively

Really good point. We don't have too many relationships of equals well, anywhere. Someone's usually older/dominant/has more power/has more money/can beat you up, and if it's not the man...ANARCHY!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:51 PM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a last-season episode about Andrew filming everyone that I think is one of the best of all Buffy episodes.

Thank you for saying that! When I met Jane Espenson, I told her Storyteller was one of my very favorite episodes. She seemed really surprised; I imagine it isn't one of those that gets a lot of fan gushing. Unfairly so, in my not-the-least-bit-humble-when-it-comes-to-BtVS opinion.

I was and am a huge Buffy nerd, although I haven't written any long, inside-baseball geektastic essays in over a decade. My back tattoo even contains a Buffy quote, although it's not the focal point.
posted by Superplin at 11:02 PM on January 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


yeah, my name here is obviously the name Buffy gave to her favorite vampire stake.
I got totally hooked March 17, 1997 when I tuned in to see the 3rd episode, "Witch". i was in no rush to watch the series, the movie was meh, but the damn teaser opening alone pulled me right in - amid Sunnydale's anxiety-filled cheerleader auditions, a girl catches fire and her pom-poms nearly explode. so yeah, i'm in for this.
And each week, very witty and occult adventures mirror the American high school and kept me watching. my high school experience was pretty much life on a Hellmouth. And I got badly addicted, i confess - i had my first (of many) Buffy t-shirts by season two, plus the action figures, turned Whedonesque and even moved once so i get the cable connection to the WB network. thank god, no fan fic or goopy picture collages were made.
When they blew up the high school at the end of season three, a brilliant conclusion, i pondered the next steps and the show kept it's approach of mirroring the culture, in this case life after high school and work. Whedon had such a good writing crew (Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, David Fury) and understood television tropes so well. combine that with the occult and magic, and that's a potent mythos which in many ways predicated the Young Adult fantasy book series, and may have invented it.
One detail i so appreciated from the show was the character of Amy - it was her obsessed witch mom wreaking havoc on cheerleaders in that first ep i saw, and Amy remained a character thru the entire run of the show, even spending 2 seasons trapped in the body of a rat.
to this day friends give me Buffy swag and i seek it too.
so yeah, not only one of the best fantasy shows ever on TV, it's just one of the best shows on TV, period. its not surprising it has longevity over generations.
posted by Mr.Pointy at 7:48 AM on January 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Jenny Calendar died too soon.

Okay, so, when Buffy first aired, I caught a bit of the premiere by chance (having forgotten it was on that night). They were in the middle of a big, not especially well-staged fight at the Bronze; Buffy threw a cymbal that decapitated a vampire offscreen, and Xander said, "Heads up!" I rolled my eyes and turned off the show.

A year later, I was mindlessly channel surfing and landed on a guy having a conversation with a ridiculous-looking dude in a full-on cape-and-fangs Dracula get-up. And I was just like, "Okay, well, now I have to know what this is." And then we cut to the regulars. And all their dialogue was straight out of Heathers, just hilarious and filled with awesome invented slang. I was hooked.

What I didn't realize was that the show was in a mid-season rerun phase. They aired the next several episodes of the show in sequence over the next two months, up to the "Surprise"/"Innocence" two-parter. The next week was A Brand New Buffy, which was "I Only Have Eyes For You." Which meant they skipped over "Passion."

Needless to say, I was really, really shocked when all the characters started talking about how Jenny Calendar had died.

But equally surprising to me was that Angel was still evil. I'd been trained by years of genre TV to expect the reset button, where every dramatic change is rolled back by the start of the next episode, and where even shows that did have ongoing stories, like The X-Files, would depart from them completely to do monsters-of-the-week. And here was an episode that not only didn't hit the reset button, but which featured a monster-of-the-week AND the show's ongoing storyline, interacting. It was downright revelatory to me at the time.
posted by brianrobot at 12:34 PM on January 30, 2016


I loved this article. I think it shows what a broad swath of girlhoods Buffy can so meaningfully reach: "To Be Chosen and Chosen"

It's the author's thoughts on growing up as an Orthodox Jewish girl and Buffy fan. It's fascinating and great.

Probably too long snippet:

At first, Buffy seems to accede to the authority of the Watchers Council. She is young and though she possesses the power of the Slayer, she doesn’t yet fully understand how to wield it. She doesn’t know much of demons or mythology. But by the end of the third season, as she graduates from high school, she fires the Council after they ignore her concerns.

And when she brings the Council back into the fold in Season Five, she makes it clear to the Watchers that they work for her—not the other way around. “Without a slayer, you’re pretty much watching Masterpiece Theater,” she tells the Brits.

Like Buffy, I accepted rabbinic control over my life and decisions because I knew no other way and had no reason to second-guess it. I followed the rules carefully, obsessively even. I believed what was said about women’s desires, potential, and inner lives—that we were intuitive, spiritual, and modest. But as I got older, I realized that what I was being taught about women didn’t seem to be true about me. I was smart, sometimes arrogant. I had been taught that “The glory of the daughter of the king is hidden.” It’s a verse that proscribes so much. Don’t wear bright colors. Don’t take careers that interfere with domestic duties. Don’t dance in front of men. Not just because we said so. But because this is your nature. The rabbis allegedly understood me better than I knew myself.

Either the rabbis were right about me or I was right about me. We both couldn’t be correct.
...
And there was an easy way out of my fight with Orthodox Judaism and its view of gender—I could just leave. I didn’t have to stay in the room and fight with old men about who I am or what my goals are.

posted by Salamandrous at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


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